Outside Guiding Lights
Ready for a crash course in Pop? Maybe not, but The Saving Graces are ready to give it you.Led by singer/songwriter Michael Slawter, this Winston-Salem, N.C.-based combo writes shimmering and brainy tunes in the finest tradition of American power-pop, earning them comparisons to The Plimsouls and The Records. A veteran of the North Carolina music scene, Slawter last fronted the short-lived pop/punk quartet Neidermeyer. The band's sole recorded offering, 'For Those About to Pop' won them 2001 pop-rock album of the year honors from The Winston-Salem Journal. The newspaper praised Slawter for creating tunes as 'smart and entertaining as (the band's) name.' Slawter soon decided he wanted a band that reflected his own vision. In 2002, the Saving Graces were born. 'I was really happy with the songs I was writing in Neidermeyer but I felt like I had so much other stuff inside me that didn't really fit that band.' Slawter recalled. 'Luckily, I was able to find people that shared my feelings and influences.' In the fall of that year the embryonic band headed into the studio with respected Australian musician d.Henry Fenton and longtime Winston-Salem scenester Britt 'Snuzz' Uzell. The end product, 'These Stars Are For You,' was released by respected Portland, Oregon indie The Paisley Pop Label to almost unanimous critical acclaim. Over five songs, 'These Stars Are For You' effortlessly blended 60s-vintage Britpop ('The Things that Make You Strange'), bouncy New Wave-style rock ('Idiot Proof') and gorgeous balladry ('Sad Golden Waves Goodbye.'). Now, on their first full-length LP, Slawter, bassist Drew Jenkins and drummer John Holoman upped the ante to produce 'Outside Guiding Lights.' Joined by veteran producer Jamie Hoover (Spongetones, Van Deleckis), the 11-song collection presents a fuller picture of Slawter's songwriting capabilities, veering from the energetic, Buzzcocks-inflected 'Giving Up The Ghost,' to the lovely sturm und jangle of 'Southern Gothic Sound,' to the deeply personal meditation that is 'Why Don't You Cry.' So set the headphones on loud and the seat on recline, and let yourself be swept away.